BY RAILA ODINGA SECRETARIAT
1. The next General Election in Kenya will be a referendum on the rule of law – the chance to choose between the rule of law and impunity, between reform and reversal of the gains of the past two decades, between anarchy and order.
2. Kenyans participated in a democratic election on 27 December 2007. The election was subsequently compromised.
3. Some forces with a selfish agenda of their own, which included settling scores that had nothing to do with the elections, took advantage of the ensuing protest against this disenfranchisement of the Kenyan electorate. This was a repeat of similar events in 1991-92 and in 1997. In 2008, more than 1,300 Kenyans were killed, hundreds of thousands were forcefully renditioned and thousands suffered all manner of indignity, classified in the international system as crimes against humanity.
4. The victims were Kenyan citizens. They were not occupying forces from some foreign country, whose killing and eviction might have been cause for heroism and celebration. The matter was then supposed to pass quietly away, as in 1992 and 1997, and to wait for another election and another wave of crimes against innocent citizens.
5. The Grand Coalition Government was established to restore the country to normalcy and shepherd institutional reforms. Everyone said, “Never again.” But not everyone has been co-operative. The beneficiaries of the 2008 injustice have shown they will stop at nothing to frustrate reform and justice.
6. It is this spirit of impunity that frustrated efforts to establish a local tribunal to deal with post-election violence. Parliament was mobilised to defeat the Constitutional amendment that sought to do this, with the main perpetrators cunningly creating the false impression that they sought real justice, and could only achieve it through the ICC. The reality is that they did not wish the matter to be addressed at all – locally or otherwise.
7. The same people shouting then, “Don’t be vague, let us go to The Hague,” are the ones now demonising the ICC. They seek to kill two birds with one stone – dragging the Prime Minister and other innocent parties into their self-inflicted woes, and at the same time making political capital out of the ICC matter.
8. The ICC has unfortunately now become an election issue. But since it IS an election issue, let it now be known that the coming elections will also be a referendum on impunity. The time has come when every one of us must stand up to be counted. Either you are for the rule of law, or you are for impunity. It can’t be both. A choice must be made.
9. The cases before the ICC did not arise out of thin air. They are the outcome of circumstances where Kenyans were killed, forcefully evicted and otherwise dehumanised. They are also the outcome of a systematic and lawful investigation, which the Republic of Kenya is lawfully party to. At the end of that investigation and subsequent court hearings, charges have been raised against those the ICC considers should be called upon to answer for the lowest moment in Kenya’s national history.
10. A lawful process having thus been followed, the Kenyan citizens before the ICC should respect the rule of law. They should seek to defend themselves in the impending trial. If they are innocent, as they have frequently professed at charged public rallies, the court will no doubt acquit them. No public petulance on their part can substitute for the court process. Nor can forged documents and the besmirching of innocent persons’ reputations assist them.
11. It is clear that the present posturing against the ICC, complete with the weaving in of the PM’s name and that of the British Government, is a dress rehearsal for non-cooperation with the ICC. It is clear that the foundation is being laid for the accused to refuse to attend trials of the cases against them.
12. In the past, election-time atrocities have gone unaddressed. People are therefore angry that, this time, things are different. They cannot understand why it should not be business as usual. To try to change that, they are feverishly mobilising people to stand on the side of impunity. They have put impunity on the election agenda. It appears they would like to see Kenya burn again.
13. It is up to each Kenyan, therefore, to search his or her soul and decide where they stand. The choice is between the law and impunity.
14. Finally, the lie is being sold that the Prime Minister is a beneficiary of post-election violence. In fact he was the greatest loser. In the interests of peace, he accepted being denied his rightful position as the elected President of Kenya.
15. The real beneficiaries of post-election violence are only too evident. They include those currently in the process of returning property acquired in areas where post-election violence victims were known to have been dispossessed of their land. Now these beneficiaries are rushing to return the land, in order to evade court processes. What greater admission of guilt could there be?
The Raila Odinga Secretariat